Emmy-nominated actor Tituss Burgess got his start on Broadway, starring in such hits as "Good Vibrations," "Jersey Boys," "The Little Mermaid" and "Guys and Dolls."
Now, his talents are on display on the small screen in the Netflix series, "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." The show follows Kimmy (Ellie Kemper), who tries to reclaim her life after being held captive by a doomsday cult for 15 years. She moves to New York City and meets Tituss, a gay wannabe Broadway actor.
In season two, now available, Tituss' wife, Vonda (whom he ditched right after their wedding), comes back into the picture.
On "CBS This Morning," Burgess talked about his "30 Rock" character, D'Fwan the hairdresser, which Tina Fey created with him in mind.
Co-anchor Gayle King said, "She wasn't sure if you were playing a character or you were just a wonderful weirdo, but she knew she had to have you."
"Maybe she still doesn't know the difference!" Burgess laughed.
Yet, while D'Fwan was written for him, Burgess still had to audition.
"It proved to be my first series regular on a network television show, and I suppose I had to prove to the network that I had the chops, so I did, and then there you go," he said. "I'm glad it worked out!"
He said he "pulled out every trick I had to try to get that job, honey. Yes, I did!"
Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) auditions with a Trident jingle, from "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt":
When asked how similar he is to the characters he plays, Burgess replied, "I certainly borrow from my personal catalog of failures, you know. But being an actor in the business, you know, you get told 'no' a lot more than you get told 'yes.' And there's a laundry list of things that it does to your self-esteem.
"And so it made it very easy to find an in to Tituss' sort of struggle, trajectory and plights. But in terms of his eccentricities, I don't know that we share very many."
Co-anchor Charlie Rose asked, "In-between all of those rejections, do you keep the spirit up? How do you do that? Believe that the next one will be a winner?"
"No. I don't look so much toward the future as the way to keep hope. I always [am] sort of ever-present -- you are enough, you are funny whether someone writes or you write it yourself. You are no less brilliant on screen than you are off, and so I've always [understood] where I was in the world, who I was in the world, and what my lane was and I tried to stay in it. Eventually, you know, someone's going to come and scoop me up."
King asked, "You said being on the show is a political presence for you. What do you mean by that?"
"Well, Tina and Robert [Carlock, the creators] certainly don't shy away from all things political. Whatever the social climate is, they seem to be actually ahead of it, and by the time it hits the air, whatever it is that we're talking about seems to be topical in the news or current at that moment. And I just feel like my presence is -- you know, I'm black, I'm gay, I'm Christian, I'm all the things that get targeted!"
The first two seasons of "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" are available to watch online at Netflix.